THE POWER OF PETS
Throughout history, the relationship between humans and pets has been one of the world’s most unique and enduring bonds. Humans have been sharing their lives with domesticated animals for more than 10,000 years—virtually since the beginning of civilization.
This special relationship benefits both humans and pets, and goes beyond mere companionship. People see their pets as important members of their families—they are friends, playmates and protectors, providing love, security and joy to their humans. In turn, it is our responsibility to take care of our pets and provide them loving, safe and happy homes.
The Benefits of Human-Animal Interaction
Our pets make us smile—but did you know that having a pet actually makes us healthier? The scientific research below shows that interacting with pets helps people enjoy happier and healthier lives, and strengthens the communities in which we live. Whether it is increasing our level of physical activity, alleviating depression or improving a child’s sense of self-esteem, having a pet is good for you!
The benefits of pet ownership are both physical and psychological.
- General Health – Pet owners visit doctors less often and spend less money on medication.1
- Physical Activity & Obesity – Numerous studies have suggested that dog walking is a great way of increasing physical activity and may help reduce rates of obesity.2
- Heart Health – Having a pet reduces blood pressure and lowers the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. Also, pet ownership can make a significant difference in the survival rates for heart attacks3—28 percent of heart patients with pets survive serious heart attacks, compared to only six percent without pets.4
- Allergies and Asthma – Pets have often been implicated as a possible cause of asthma and allergies; however, growing up with a dog during infancy helps to strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of allergies linked to asthma.5
- Stress Reduction – Pet ownership reduces stress levels, specifically in therapy sessions.6 Pets are currently being used in Animal Assisted Therapy in a wide range of therapeutic and institutional settings.
- Depression – For those who have lost a spouse, pet ownership and a strong attachment to a pet is associated with significantly less depression.7
- Mental Health – People with pets feel less lonely than those without. Elderly people with pets live longer due to increased physical activity, socialization and mental function. Also, children who suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD) are able to focus on a pet, which helps them learn how to concentrate.8
- Improved Self-Esteem – Self-esteem is higher in children and adolescents who own pets.9
- Increased Empathy – Children who grow up with pets demonstrate more empathy, are more popular with classmates and are more involved in activities such as sports, hobbies, clubs or chores.10
- Security – Pet owners feel less afraid of being a victim of crime when walking with a dog or sharing a residence with a dog.11
In addition to the benefits to individuals and families, communities that foster pet ownership also enjoy significant advantages:
- Increased Social Engagement – The presence of dogs increases the number and length of peoples’ conversations with others in the community.12 Also, pets in nursing homes increase social and verbal interactions among the elderly.13
- Social Cohesion – Pets help people connect and allow them to form closer bonds that underpin successful, healthy communities. Increased social cohesion facilitated by pets and pet owners leads to increased community spirit, less crime, higher wealth and higher levels of education. This is particularly true in neighborhoods that foster communal areas such as dog parks, where pets and pet owners can socialize together.14
About Mars' Commitment to Pets and
Enhancing the Human-Animal Bond
At Mars Petcare, we love pets. Not only do pets create meaningful moments of joy for the people around them—interacting with pets delivers real, tangible benefits for individuals and communities. In turn, it is our responsibility to make the world a better place for the pets in our lives, by providing them with safe, healthy homes; good healthcare and nutrition; and proper training and socialization. The bond between humans and their pets is unique and special, and we are dedicated to celebrating it through programs and partnerships that highlight the positive experience of having a pet.
Mars’ commitment to pets stems from its commitment to its Five Principles of Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom. We will fulfill our responsibility to pets by continuing to:
- Pioneer some of the most important breakthroughs in pet health and well-being through The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition;
- Provide important information about pet health and population through Banfield®, The Pet Hospital, which is a full-service veterinarian hospital and maintains the only national pet health database;
- Help pet owners know and understand more about their canine companions through Mars Veterinary WISDOMPANEL™ Mixed-Breed Dog DNA Testing;
- Work to support the broadest possible community of pet owners, particularly through PEDIGREE Foundation and adoption fairs;
- Support shelters through education, in-kind gifts, monetary grants and food donations;
- Work to minimize the impact pets have on the environment by focusing on sustainable pet food production (e.g., sustainable fish sourcing); and
- Further the health, wellness and nutritional needs of pets with its broad range of high-quality products and services.
As a pet owner, you know all the ways your dog, cat or other loveable creature helps improve the quality of your life. Our pets provide companionship, help reduce stress, and improve our overall health and well-being. But just as we count on our pets for the joy they bring us, they count on us to take good care of them. There are so many ways you can make a real difference in the quality of your pet’s life. Owning a pet is a big responsibility and an important commitment—one that brings with it tremendous rewards. Properly caring for a pet is about more than providing food and shelter—it’s about making the world a better place for your pet.
Choosing the Right Pet for You
Pet ownership brings happiness and so many other benefits, to which everyone should have access. But enjoying these benefits means taking your responsibility seriously—and that should start before you bring a pet home. Different types of animals have different needs, so it’s important to assess what makes sense for you and your family. For example, if your job requires you to travel a great deal, a pet that needs a lot of care and attention is not the best option. But don’t despair! There are many other kinds of pets that could be a potential companion. Just take the time to research what kind of animal best suits your lifestyle.
After choosing a pet, it is important to get educated about how to provide a quality life for your new family member. Knowing what to expect will increase the likelihood that your pet will make a happy and healthy adjustment to your home. Your veterinarian, local shelter and animal welfare organizations can help you learn about things like:
- The importance of veterinary care | Pets need access to regular medical care, just like humans. They need to be vaccinated— at the beginning and at regular intervals for their whole lives. They need regular check-ups, and need preventative care for things like fleas and heartworm.
- Proper nutrition – Healthy, nutritious and high-quality food helps ensure pets live a long life. Pay attention to what you feed your pet. Avoid giving them “people food”—it doesn’t provide the nutritional balance pets need.
- Dental Care – Effective dental care programs can add years to a pet’s life. Periodontal disease is the most common disease in dogs, resulting in bad breath, pain and tooth loss, and sometimes chronic infections that can enter the bloodstream and affect vital organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys.
- Training – There is no such thing as a bad pet. But some dogs can exhibit behavioral problems without proper training. If we want our pets to act in a certain way—to relieve themselves outside or to avoid jumping up on us in greeting—then it’s our job to teach them!
- Daily activity – Sedentary lifestyles can lead to poor muscle tone, obesity, heart ailments, bone disorders, emotional problems and disruptive behaviors in pets.
- Socialization – Failing to socialize a pet properly is a form of neglect and will lead to problems down the road. While different types of animals need different levels of socialization, all pets deserve our love and attention.
Caring for Your Pet
Humans and animals have enjoyed a unique connection since the earliest days of civilization, and there is a reason for that! The human-animal bond is one of the most enduring relationships in the world and provides incredible benefits for both people and pets. Though caring for a pet is a big responsibility, few things can compare to the unconditional love you will receive in return!
Responsible pet owners believe:
- Pets, and pet ownership, are good for people of all ages and circumstances.
- Pets can play an integral part in a harmonious community.
- Owners have a responsibility to their pet, and to the community within which
the pet owner and pet live.
1 Headey et al, Pets and Human Health in Germany and Australia: National Longitudinal Results, Social Research Indicators, Issue 80 Volume Number 2, January 2007, 297-311.
2 Anna Timperio, Jo Salmon, Binh Chu and Nick Andrianopoulos Is dog ownership or dog walking associated with weight status in children and their parents? Health Promotion Journal of Australia, April 2008 Volume 19, No 1
3 Friedmann, E.; Thomas, S.A.; Son, H. & and McCune, S. Pet’s presence and owner’s blood pressures during the daily lives of pet owners with pre-to-mild hypertension, Oral Presentation at the International Society for Anthrozoology’s 2010 Annual Conference, Sweden, 30 June 2010.
4 Friedmann, E.; Thomas, S.A.; Son, H. & and McCune, S. Pet’s presence and owner’s blood pressures during the daily lives of pet owners with pre-to-mild hypertension, Oral Presentation at the International Society for Anthrozoology’s 2010 Annual Conference, Sweden, 30 June 2010.
5 Hesselmar, B.: Aberg, N. Aberg, B.: Eriksson, B. & Bjorksten, B., Does early exposure to cat or dog protect against later allergy development? Department of Pediatrics, University of Goteborg, Goteborg, Sweden. Clinical Exp Allergy, Volume 29, No 5, May 611-7.
6 Baun, M.M., Oetting, K., & Bergstrom, N. (1991). Health benefits of companion animals in relation to the physiologic indices of relaxation. Holistic Nursing Practice, Issue 5, pp. 16-23.
7 Garrity, T; Stallones, L; Marx, M; & Johnson, T. Department of Behavioral Science, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY, Pet Ownership And Attachment As Supportive Factors In The Health Of The Elderly, Anthrozoos, Vol. 3, No. 1 1989, 35-44.
8 Love, Miracles and Animal Healing. Schoen, 1996
9 Redefer, L.A. & Goodman, J.F. (1989). Brief report: Pet-facilitated therapy with autistic children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Issue 19, 461-467.
10 Melson, G.F., Pet ownership and attachment in young children: Relations to behavior problems and social competence. Paper presented to the annual meeting of the Delta Society, Houston, TX, 1990.
11 James Serpell PhD, Beneficial effects of pet ownership on some aspects of human health & behaviour, Journal of Royal Science of Medicine, Volume 84, December 1991.
12 Jenkinson, S.; Harrop, P., The UK’s first dog-human activity trail: increasing fun, health and fitness for people and their dogs. Oral presentation at the 12th International conference of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organisations, Sweden 1-4th July 2010.
13 Fick, K. (1993). The influence of an animal on social interactions of nursing home residents in a group setting. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 47, 529-534.
14 James Serpell PhD, Beneficial effects of pet ownership on some aspects of human health & behaviour, Journal of Royal Science of Medicine, Volume 84, December 1991.